Spontaneous Trip to Niagara Falls

Lately, I’ve had the itch. (Woah – that’s a weird sentence!) Not that kind of itch… I promise you. I’ve been dying (or itching, if you will) to just get out of the house and explore. I think the winter cold and short, dark days are finally wearing on me. Thankfully, we were able to get up to the house in WV a few weeks ago, which temporarily satisfied my carving. Obviously, it only put a Band-Aid on gaping wound since just a few short weeks later, I already found myself dreaming of getting away again.

On Thursday morning, Alex and I had a rare chance to grab breakfast together pre-work and began discussing the weekend. Should we stay home? Should we start a project? Are we just going to do the same old, same old? All of those options seemed mundane and oddly terrible.

This is basically how the rest of the conversation went:

A: “Maybe we should get out of town.”

M: “Yeah, maybe we should. Where could we go?”

A: “I dunno, we could go to Niagara Falls.”

M: “That sounds like it would be fun. Maybe we should invite Joe and Suzzette (our friends in NY).”

A: “Yeah, good idea. When could we leave?”

M: “I could take tomorrow off work. Do you want to leave this afternoon?”

So, there it was. Vague plans to travel up north. I called my mom to see if she would be able to watch our doggies and house (she’s a life saver when it comes to last minute plans 🙂 ). I checked with my boss (also, amazingly understanding). We weirdly invited ourselves up to NY to stay with Joe and Suzzette for a night and asked them to come to the Falls with us.

Seriously… that was the extent of our planning. I booked a hotel, we grabbed some adult beverages to bring and we packed our bags (you gotta have your priorities in line). By 6 PM, we were on our way!

Another funny thing that I would like to add: Apparently, when you travel up north in the WINTER and it says that there is a 30% chance of snow each day that (obviously) means that it will snow pretty much the entire time you’re there. Sooo — the lesson of the story is that if you find yourself debating on whether you should bring the big four wheel drive truck or the car (that needs new tires soon) – you should choose the truck. If not, you’ll find yourself stuck on a mountain in the snow at midnight (oh! and with no cell service). That story’s called: now I see how Deliverance happens in real life.

Alas, we finally made it to their house in the wee hours of Friday morning. Since Suzzette still had to work on Friday (drat!) – Joe, Alex, and I decided to explore the Corning Glass Museum while she was working (they’ve been there before).

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There were some really cool exhibits and information about Corning/Pyrex.

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And then there were some reeeeally strange exhibits.

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Yes, that is a bunch of glass knives hanging over a tiny little glass village. Nightmare central right there, folks.

Anyway, what stole the day was when we got to blow our own glass! It was pretty pricey so it’s not for everyone just wandering through – but it really made the whole experience!

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Friday night we hung around the house, made a delicious dinner, had a couple drinks, and played Cards Against Humanity. Have you guys played this yet? (Again – it’s definitely not for everyone!) But, basically it’s a completely inappropriate, slightly vulgar (adult!) Apples to Apples.

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Saturday morning we were off to Niagara Falls!

The town was pretty dead, which wasn’t surprising considering the lack of temperature outside. I was surprised that everything was pretty much in walking distance. We didn’t have to drive for miles and hike to the middle of nowhere to see the Falls. They were pretty much right in the middle of town and even the view walking up towards the Falls was beautiful!

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At this point, you have no idea how big the Falls will be – all you can tell is that in a few feet, the river completely drops off.

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Don’t let my shiny pictures deceive you. It was actually a ridiculously cold, grey day. Don’t believe me? Here’s one of my pictures straight off the camera (no editing at all).

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I was pretty shocked to see how much of the river froze immediately after hitting the bottom of the waterfall. I thought with the constant movement, it would prevent freezing. Oh, how I was wrong! The ice at the bottom was probably ten feet thick!

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I also couldn’t believe how close Canada was. The buildings on the other side of the river? Yeah… that’s Canada! I wish we could have walked to the other side, but someone (cough, cough ME) doesn’t have a passport yet. It was just so beautiful there. I can’t wait to go back in the summer to explore more of the activities when they’re open.

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That evening we ate at Michael’s  which is an old-school family style Italian restaurant with the biggest portions I’ve ever seen, an incredible wait staff, and awesome food! I would definitely recommend checking it out!

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Sorry for the blurry iPhone photo 🙂

We were pretty tired by the end of the day and hung around the hotel playing Cards Against Humanity again. We laughed all night, drank plenty, snacked on leftovers, and thoroughly enjoyed one another’s company.

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The boys had a great time hanging out with their Grandma and cousin/nephew/uncle (my mom’s dog), Jake.

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Now, we’re all back at work and will be recovering for a couple days!

A big thanks to my mom for watching our doggies and the house. Also a big thanks to Joe and Suzzette for letting us crash their weekend (and their abode for a night)!

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Have you guys had a chance to break the winter blues? Dreaming of any weekend trips? Have you ever been to Niagara Falls?

Life {lately}

Wow, I just signed in this morning to write a quick little post and WordPress alerted me that today is my third blogging anniversary. Crazy. Seriously, that’s nuts! I’ve always loved journaling, taking pictures, and reminiscing – so, this seems to be a good match for me! I have loved getting to know you guys and sharing our little journey with each of you 🙂 Thanks for making this worthwhile for me! Three years ago we were just dating, living in an apartment and Hunter was still a little pup. Now, we’ve been married for almost two years (where did the time go??), have two dogs and tackle home improvement projects like nobody’s business. It’s funny how things change! Who knows where we’ll be next year or even next week, but I’m happy that I get to share it all with you 🙂

I had a small computer malfunction that has slowed my actual camera picture editing. Thankfully, it seems to be fixed now (yay!), but that means I don’t have all the goodies ready for sharing. Oh well!  I still have a boat load of pictures on my phone that I cherish as well. Sometimes I feel like my phone pictures are a better representation of my life anyway. Not staged, not edited for the perfect lighting… just life.

Before we get started on those, here are a couple quick things that are worth mentioning that don’t have pictures attached to them…

  • For the last two weeks I’ve had a terrible pain in my knee and Alex has had some serious back problems. We’ve almost worn out our heating pad and ice rice bags (thanks, Suzzette :)). We took some time off our normal workout schedule and things seemed to get better. However, this weekend my knee took a serious downward spiral. I’ll be picking up a brace this evening to see if that helps – if not, I’ll be making my way to an orthopedic doctor.
  • Remember how I told you that we were asked if we wanted our bathroom to be on HGTV? Sadly, I found out last week that it won’t work out. Apparently my “before” pictures were not high enough quality. It’s not like I can just re-stage the bathroom and take new pictures, you know? There’s nothing I can do about that! The old bathroom was hideous, dungeon-ey and falling apart. Of course the pictures didn’t look as shiny as the new bathroom. I was pretty disappointed but – maybe next time!
  • Alex is about to finish up his second school semester after taking a long hiatus when he joined the military. This will be his second semester in a row getting straight A’s!! (Fingers crossed that I’m not jinxing anything, although he only has one week left and 99% of his work is already done!)

Okay, here’s what our life has looked like over the last few weeks —

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a+ b.) a gorgeous covered bridge that we visited on a recent trip to WV (although I think this particular bridge was in VA) c). Alex, Alyse and I (oh and a little Bailey and JoJo in the back) hanging out on said WV trip d.) the gang minus a few of us.

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a.) my mom’s super cute pup, Jake. She sent this picture to me yesterday and it’s too cute not to include! b.) Alex alseep in WV with a bed full of dogs. You better believe that I kicked those pups out to get a little room c.) Our collection of golden retrievers (my mom’s two plus ours) d.) My mom’s dog, Jake was so tired in WV that he literally fell asleep while begging for treats.

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a.) my newest toy that I’m slowly becoming smitten with b.) a deliciously perfect pair of rainbows on my way home from work last week c.) the beautiful sunset that quickly followed the rainbows d.) my first sewing project. I made two little bags to carry dog treats in during our walks.

Ribbet collagehuntera through d) a whole lot of Hunterbug love! Including his new antler (A) and a generous ball of dirt and grass that he thought would be fun to bring into bed (C)

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a.) a Nissian Skyline we saw at the Baltimore car show b.) Me sitting in my future mom car. I used to be slightly obsessed with the Honda Pilot, but have recently switched over to the Toyota Highlander. One of these years I’ll actually need a bigger car! c.) an old school Cadillac that was also at the car show

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a through d) more WV doggie shots, including getting completely squished by Bailey (B and C)

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a.) Alex got up early on Sunday and surprised me by making our weekly quiche. Isn’t he sweet?? b.) a night full of whiskey tasting with the man and our good friend, Alyse c.) proof — haha. Alyse + whiskey d.) the cutest picture of Alex and Bailey ever. Ever. Ever. Ever.

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a.) Alex took the boys to get groomed last week. They’re so handsome now! b & c.) little Bailey and his big nose 🙂 d.) how our night ends… every single night!

What have you guys been up to? Have you taken any quick trips to get out of town? Does anyone else in the world take as many pictures of their dogs as I do? Are you getting into any new hobbies? Sewing? Anyone… anyone??

Friday Q&A

Good Morning and Happy Friday, friends!

Can you believe I’ve been doing this old blogging thing for almost three years? Kinda crazy, right? Over the years I’ve received various emails asking me all kinds of questions. Some really specific – “where’d you get that jacket?” or “what kind of camera do you use?” and others are more board, “what would you do if you were in a similar situation?” The funny thing with questions is that if one person is wondering it, more often than not, so are a slew of other people. Personally, when I read other people’s blogs these are the posts I love the most. You know, the ones where you really get to learn more about the writer. I tried to compile a few of the questions that I’ve received over the years into a nice little post to close out the week. Most of them can be lumped into one of these categories: work, family/friends, and health.

Work

Question: What do you do for a living?

Answer: How direct, I like your style. After graduating college with a degree in psychology and criminal justice, I searched long and hard for a job in that field. When a few months passed and I was still babysitting to basically say that I had a job, I took whatever “real” job I could. My first “career” job offer came at a local Broker/Dealer. It wasn’t as fancy as it sounds. I was stuck for almost two years as a customer service rep and absolutely hated every minute of it there in the end. Now I work in the same field (investments), but I’m on the regulatory side of things. Among many other things, my company regulates the stock market to make sure people aren’t doing shady business. It’s certainly interesting work, but like any job, has some boring parts that are more day-to-day duties. Overall, I absolutely love my job and the team that I work with and enjoy feeling like I’m doing something important.

Question: I’ve recently found myself contemplating switching jobs. I remember when you announced that you were leaving your old job (from this post back here).Was it hard to make that decision? Have you regretted it? Did you find a new job first?

Answer: Great questions. It took a long time for me to get fed up enough to decide to start looking for other career opportunities. It certainly didn’t happen overnight. Rather it was a long string of events that made me unhappy. The thing with life is that a job just isn’t important enough to really and deeply affect your happiness. You can’t just go home and snap into a better mood. Being unhappy at work impacts so, sooo much of your life. Once I had a little encouragement from Alex, my mom, and a couple close friends, I decided to look around for other jobs. Thankfully, my search was very quick and had accepted my new job less than two weeks after submitting my resume. Yes, I interviewed and accepted my new job while still employed to make sure we wouldn’t find ourselves in a financial rut. Have I regretted it? Not for a second. I’m a big proponent for doing what makes you happy. It’s just not worth it!

Question: Do you plan to work from home/be a stay at home mom when you guys have kids?

Answer: This is actually a topic that Alex and I have talked a lot about lately (not really as a “would we want to do this” but really just talking about it). The answer: nope. While it works wonderfully for some families – it just wouldn’t work with us. We both grew up with moms and dads who went to work every day and that’s just how we envision our lives as well. It would cause too many issues with us. Plus, I’m not as self-motivated as Alex to get stuff done (just bein’ honest) and I would be itching to get out of the house pretty much all day. Alex and I always joke that between the two of us, he would be the waaaaay better stay at home parent. Is it gonna happen? Nope. (Sorry, babe!) We’re gonna keep truckin’ along at work. (again, please don’t think that just because this situation wouldn’t work for us means that I condone others for choosing this lifestyle!)

Family/Friends

Question: How did you and Alex meet?

Answer: I wrote all about how we met here and here. Such a fun story 🙂

Question: How did you and your husband know that you were ready to start a family? Did you keep it a secret?

Answer: Oh babies. Hopefully our luck with this subject will change soon! We always knew we wanted to have a family but wanted to be married for at least a year before we started really trying. We thought it was important to get to know our relationship as husband and wife a little better before we introduced another human being into the equation. Neither of us had any idea that this would take more than a couple months. How long will this journey take? No idea. I’ll keep you in the loop though. Did we keep it a secret? Umm.. yes and no. I had a couple really close girlfriends that I felt comfortable talking to. My mom knew, and I’m sure a whole slew of people assumed we were trying, but I didn’t announce it to the world or post it on my facebook until the surgery happened (then I felt like writing about it would help with the healing process, plus, having a pretty serious surgery is something you like to share with family and friends).

Question: I’ve found that as we get older, staying in touch with friends gets really hard. How do you stay in touch with close friends?

Answer: You’re definitely not alone on this one. Unfortunately, I’ve been pretty bad with staying in touch lately. I think the key is to really find a time that works well with you. Personally, the friends that email me directly at work get a response from me way quicker than any other method. I tend to get to start my day much earlier than most of my friends though (I get to work between 7 and 7:30 and leave around 4). The problem with this is that driving home from work seems to be a perfect time to call and catch up with them. However, most of my friends are still working when I’m driving home so we always miss each other then. Once I get home, being with my family, trying to grab a work out, and make dinner/clean up pretty much take up the rest of my night. Sooo, a long winded explanation to say: you gotta find a way and a time that works for you. For me? Emailing during the day is working the best right now.

Question: Have you ever wanted to move far away?

Answer: Yep. When I was picking what college I wanted to go to, I purposefully chose a school that was far from home. That’s how I ended up at Florida State for a couple years. I transferred to UMD during my sophomore year when my dad was sick and never regretted that decision either. Do I still want to move far away? Um, eventually. Right now, we’re loving our house and its location. My mom is right down the road, which really helps when Alex is deployed. We both dream of retiring in the mountains somewhere and have been obsessed with the idea of moving to Tennessee after our trip there last May (check this post and this post for that info).

Health

Question: How do you stay in shape?

Answer: A couple months ago, Alex and I joined a gym about five minutes from our house. They offer a ton of great classes that we’ve been going to at night. Alex and I go to Body Pump together 2-3 times a week. The other days I do a cycling or a Body Combat/Body Attack (some other kind of cardio) class while Alex does his normal work out around the gym. Before we joined, both of our works have work-out facilities and we were going there during our lunch break. Are we perfect with keeping up with this? No, definitely not. In fact, we just had a lengthy discussion last night about bigger changes we could make to see results. I’ll let you know how that turns out.

Question: When you post recipes they don’t always tend to be super healthy. Do you cook like this all the time? Do you have stand-by meals you eat during the week?

Answer: What, you mean that a giant bowl of clam chowder or a plate full of peach cobbler isn’t the best thing for you? I definitely post some treats, that’s for sure. But browsing through some of my recipes, I feel like I try to have a good mix of healthy foods and once in a while foods. During the week we typically eat chicken one night (whether it’s marinated and grilled, used as chicken parmesan, or cut up in chicken fajitas), some kind of seafood (salmon, shrimp, seafood pasta), we also usually have a soup and sandwich night, and a leftover night. We try to eat out just once a week (although we’ve been doing that move often lately) – usually on Friday or Saturday. For lunch I eat a salad, soup, or leftovers from the night before. We’re not perfect, but tend to think that eating healthy 80% of the time, let’s you eat not so great the remaining 20%.

Wow, that was a lot longer than I was expecting it to be. I’d like to answer more of your questions on a regular basis, but I need your help to do that! Send me an email with your questions at Lifewithacrazypup(at)gmail(dot)com – I’d love to hear from you. Or feel free to leave your questions in the comments section of this post. OR you can submit them to me anonymously here.

What do you guys have planned for the weekend? Is this a kind of post you’d like to see more of or was this not your cup of tea? Do you have any great advice for staying in touch with friends? Any stand-by recipes that you’re dying to share?